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Planning Office Lighting and How to Make Yours More Productive

Author: Reena Reeves
Published: January 20, 2020

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The correct office lighting is a key component to creating bright and efficient workspaces. Get it right and things like work fatigue will be reduced while the performance and well-being of the workers who use the space will in turn, improve.

We are now working longer, more intense hours than ever before, so employers are increasingly being encouraged to create work spaces that positively impact their staff. The right lighting, at the right time, in the right place, can improve motivation, productivity, even support a more positive attitude for employees. It will really pay off to take time to consider and plan lighting carefully. A study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering showed that in companies with a higher standard of interior design, productivity can increase up to 36%. Lighting can also play a vital role in a helping company’s reduce their energy and maintenance costs, so it pays to make informed decisions when it comes to lighting in office design.

In this article we are going to explore all aspects of office lighting in depth, covering the following areas:

Colour temperature explained

Lighting Colour Temperature

Rather than colours of the rainbow, colour temperatures simply refers to warm or cold light. Colour temperature is measured in units called kelvins and uses a scale that runs from warm to cold. The warmest temperature range is 2000k-3000k and this is used to create an ambient, welcoming atmosphere. Warm lighting is generally dimmer, and used in spaces intended for relaxation and rest. In an office this might be a break room, cafeteria or a reception area. Cooler lighting ranges from 3100K to 6500K and is much brighter and crisp, at the other end of the scale. Cooler lighting is better suited to areas where task lighting is needed, such as offices, garages or display areas. Often it is needed where focused tasks such as writing, working on a computer or drawing are to take place.

Desk area lighting

Using daylight to increase productivity

Daylight Lighting Colour Temperature

In an ideal world we would spend all our working time in abundant natural light. The perfect offices would have large windows that would allow natural light to flood in all day long. Sounds good doesn’t it, if a little impractical. Studies have shown that sitting close to a window in an office can have positive effects on employee satisfaction, so what is the ideal solution for offices without many windows? Mimicking natural light through artificial light, is the next best option.

Lighting Colour Temperature - Office - Desk Lighting

This can be achieved through the use of daylight coloured bulbs. Cool, daylight bulbs are a fantastic alternative to harsh fluorescent lighting that used to be common place in offices. We would recommend bulbs that are 5000K plus in colour temperature to try to replicate true daylight as closely as possible. Studies have shown that the light produced by daylight bulbs:

  • Helps prevent eyestrain
  • Improves alertness
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Enhances overall well-being and mood.

As well as improving performance during the day whilst at work, exposure to this bright type of light can also help you to sleep better. It stimulates the brain, and can even affect certain processes in your body such as blood pressure and heart rate. A lack of natural light can make us feel depressed, lethargic and lacking in energy, none of which make for a healthy working environment. These symptoms can be a contributing factor to workplace stress and burnout.

Cooler daylight can also be useful in areas where task lighting is needed. In an office this is required when intricate tasks are being done, or for areas where people use screens regularly. An important consideration with task lighting is making it adaptable for the individuals using it, so that it can be tailored to their needs. This could mean a desk lamp that can be angled, a floor lamp in an area of the office or over head lights that are operated by individual switches. It has been found that giving employees the opportunity to personalise and control lighting, can help them feel more satisfied at work and less stressed.

Brainstorming areas

Cool White Lighting Colour Temperature

If your office has a dedicated area or meeting room for brainstorms, pay close attention to the lighting. Choose lights that are too warm and employees might feel too relaxed to generate ideas. According to a study by the University of Greenwich, the use of light bulbs that emit cool light with a blue tinge (‘Blue Enriched’) that are around 3,700K, results in improved productivity and performance. This happens because this cooler light helps promote mental alertness, plus it reduces the production of melatonin, which makes us sleepy. It’s almost like thinking about the physical temperature of a room. It shouldn’t be too warm so people fall asleep but also not so cold that they’re shivering and can’t focus.

So, when considering the lighting in rooms for brainstorming, or where people are likely to sharing ideas, definitely opt for lights that have cooler coloured bulbs or better still, have the option for you to adjust the lighting yourself.

Depending on the type and size of your office or room, you may be looking for a range of different light fittings to plan your office lighting. In our offices here at Lyco we use Cool white LED panels, alongside an Edit Office LED Bar above each pair of desks. They provide cool light which helps office workers see well, especially when working on screens for much of the day. The bright light ensures eyes aren’t strained and their energy level stays high.

We have so many different options of lighting that we think would support your office, no matter its size. For example, why not consider track lights in meetings rooms with adjustable heads for focused lighting. They are easy to install and include energy saving LED bulbs for lower running and maintenance costs.

Finding the right lighting for meeting rooms

Meetings rooms are one of the hardest spaces to plan for in an office environment as they have lots of different uses. On one hand, you want them work as a space that encourages productivity, interaction and engagement during meetings or presentations. However, the space also needs to feel warm and welcoming to external visitors and clients who may also be visiting with you in your offices. They could be used for one-to-one meetings, or conversations of a sensitive nature, so you want lighting that will complement the mood and tone the space is being used for. We would recommend lighting temperatures between 3100K and 4500K which are bright but welcoming. The conference room, for example should have lighting that falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Bright enough to keep people’s attention sparked and the ideas following, but warm enough to create intimacy and comfort at other times. There are various other ways to ensure meeting room lighting is flexible, for example by using dimmers, and adding wall lights which will add subtle background ambience.

Lighting Colour Temperature - Office - Desk Lighting

Smart lighting is becoming increasingly popular in meetings rooms and throughout offices, as it offers the flexibility to alter lighting easily. One minute a board meeting could be happening in there and the next, there could be a confidential conversation. Smart lighting offers the opportunity to adapt the lighting at the flick of a switch. Better still, employees can easily control and match the lighting to their own preferences as well as the tone of the meeting. This type of set up has huge potential to enhance employee satisfaction, as staff feel more empowered and in control of their working environment, which some studies have shown, can help companies retain their staff.

We stock a range of white changing LED bulbs that can be fitted to track light kits, and then controlled via phones or on a centralised dock. Track lighting is a great way to highlight seating areas around a desk, and as the individual heads can be angled, they can provide directional lighting for users.

Warm lighting in break out areas

Warm White Lighting Colour Temperature

We’ve talked lots about productivity so far, which we can all agree is important in an office setting. But what about when staff need to take well-earned breaks throughout the day, in order to have some down-time and unwind? They not only need space to break out but the lighting has to be fit for purpose in these spaces, too. The key to achieving a sense of balance is to separate the lighting in areas designed for people to work and for them to relax. Not only will this create distinct spaces for the two activities but it will amplify the results of bright white light in office areas and brainstorming rooms.

Lighting-colour-temperature-Break-room-lighting

So, what should the lighting be like in a break out area? Using ambient and warm lighting is key to creating spaces where staff can have some quiet time and switch off amongst the chaos of the working day. As well as comfortable furniture and soft furnishings, consider using floor lamps, wall lights and bulbs with colour temperatures between 2000K and 3000K. This will help to create a cosy and inviting atmosphere. We recommend selecting light fittings in neutral colours rather than anything too brightly coloured or eye-catching. This is so that they aren’t too distracting while people are reading, chatting or eating lunch.

The Mathis light by Edit is a great option to achieve this as it will blend into neutral backgrounds well, but can also be painted a specific colour if needed. Wall lights are an ideal way to add warmth as they provide ambient lighting to rooms. They could work just as well in less formal meeting rooms as well as in break and staff rooms or reception areas.

LED Lighting

We are currently experiencing the real effects of climate change. So whatever you decide to do with your lighting, it’s vital now more than ever to invest in LED. Switch to LED and you will be helping to save the planet and making cost savings for your business right away. LED will improve energy efficiency up to 80% over older fluorescent lighting, which is undeniably positive for any business. And because they use a fraction of the energy, over time energy bills will reduce. LED bulbs far outlast fluorescent or halogen bulbs, with many of them having a considerable life span up to 50,000 hours. This means they will need to replaced far less frequently than their older equivalents. Eventually, it will lead to lower maintenance costs, too. These differences alone can repay the investment very quickly.

It is easy to see why converting your office lighting to LED makes business sense. But did you know LEDs can also improve the health and well-being of workers where they are used? They are the perfect option for lighting an office as they provide a brighter, clearer light compared to fluorescent tubes. These have a tendency to be harsh and overly bright. Studies have shown that LED lighting is much better for us in the long term.

  • It can improve our mood
  • Boost our energy levels
  • Help us avoid eye strain
  • Reduce levels of tiredness

An investment in LED lighting is a means to develop a healthy working environment in which people can thrive and succeed.

Searching for advice? Contact us today

At Lyco we stock thousands of LED office lighting options that are suitable for offices of all types and sizes. Whether your offices are modern, purpose-built premises or a converted barn, we have lighting solutions to cover all bases. Our experienced team are on hand to answer any queries or questions you might have about installations, refits, or upgrading lighting systems in offices and new premises. Simply call or email the team for free advice, support and specific recommendations based on your requirements.

Call us: 0345 646 1133
Email us: [email protected]

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Reena Reeves

Reena Reeves

Reena Reeves is writer and editor with 15 years’ experiencing working in publishing and digital media. She has a degree in Journalism and has worked for publications such as Smash Hits magazine, OK! Magazine and The Daily Express. Reena has been writing about lighting since early 2017 and has supported us with website copy, product descriptions and articles on lighting trends and commercial lighting solutions.